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Changing family patterns in the Caribbean

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aleesha lewis

on 16 January 2014

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Transcript of Changing family patterns in the Caribbean



The African-Caribbean Family>>> THEN...
Afro-Caribbean families>>>>NOW
Overtime as the Afro-Caribbean families became better socialized and became a more civilized christian dominated institution their family patterns began to change. As in keeping with the Christian doctrine, many Afro-Caribbean families now seek to go the route of legal marriage, recoginzed in the eyes of the church. More fathers have taken on their roles as not just bread winners but disciplinarians and even nurturers as many more fathers than in the past can be seen taking their childern to school,church and playing a more active role in their emotional development. Whilst this is mostly seen in the upper and middle class and they tend to get married before they have children, many lower class citizens of afro-caribbean descent now choose the path of marriage even if after their children are born. This can be explained in many ways, from better education to music and americanization as the role of "wife' becomes so much more significant to a place in society. Whist there are still vast numbers of common law marriages in the caribbean there is also significant increase in marriage rates.. as for the divorce rates... well thats another matter.
The East-Indian Caribbean Family>>THEN

Indian-Caribbean families usually share their resources and have mutual obligations to each other. It is not unusual to see several generations living in the same house or in houses built close to each other, even after marriage.
Marriage is an important event for girls, because they are groomed for it from childhood (Leo-Rhynie 1996). At marriage, the woman leaves her family and becomes a part of her husband's family and is expected to be submissive to her husband as well as his family. Men in these families have more privileges and respect, and women are expected to cater to their needs and desires.



Changing family patterns in the Caribbean
Approximately 80 to 90 percent of families in the Caribbean are from an African background, and came as slaves to the region. The African-Caribbean family has unique mating and childrearing patterns. Some of these patterns include absent fathers, grandmother-dominated households, frequently terminated common-law unions, and child-shifting, where children are sent to live with relatives because the parents have migrated or have begun a union with another spouse. These behaviours it can be said are adaptations of our colonial history. Absent fathers stemming from the shifting of male slaves to other plantations removing them from the common law unions that had been established or even the role of the slave men as simple "seed-sowers", moving from one fertile patch to the next. Grandmother dominated households can also be linked to salvery as on the plantations, the older slaves were the ones given the task of caring for the young so their mothers could work and common law marriages stemming from the law that slaves were not allowed to get married and child shifting as common law marriages in those days split up the child was moved into a new family with mother and new spouse.






The Caribbean Family
There is much diversity in Caribbean families. They are, in some ways, a distinct group because of their multi-ethnic composition. Although the majority of the families have an African background, which sometimes causes people from the Caribbean to be identified as such, there are families from Indian, Middle Eastern, and European backgrounds who identify themselves as Caribbean. The family structure of Caribbean families will be discussed within the context of 2 of the primary ethnic groups in the region (African, Indian). Although there are some similarities in family structures, each group has unique customs and traditions. Yogendra Malik (1971) noted that although East Indians and Africans have been living in close proximity for more than a century, each group possesses distinct values, institutions, authority patterns, kinship groups, and goals.



The East-Indian Caribbean Family>>NOW
The indo-caribbean family structure has changed but has maintained most of its core values. Marriage is still an integral part of their structure, elders are still held in high esteem and children are still taught to be obedient and submissive and to make their parents proud in their achievements. Common law marriages are still frowned upon and men still head the household. Whilst there are single parent families in the indo-caribbean family structure, the women are most often widows. Where they have changed however is in the rights of their women. Women now have the opportunity to study and educate themselves. To work and also share the role of bread winner with their husbands.

The family structure of Indian-Caribbean families is in many ways similar to their Indian counterparts. In the traditional Indian-Caribbean family, the roles of family members are clearly delineated. The father is seen as the head of the family, the authority figure, and the primary breadwinner. He has the final authority in most matters. In general, males are valued more than females and are seen as the primary disciplinarians and decision makers.The mother has a nurturing role in the family, and is usually responsible for taking care of the children and household chores. In general, women are taught that their major role is to get married and contribute to their husband's family. From a traditional Hindu religious perspective, women are seen as subordinate and inferior to men.The principal role of children is to bring honor to their families by their achievements, good behavior, and contribution to the family's well-being. As such, characteristics such as obedience, conformity, generational interdependence, obligation, and shame are highly valued. Children are seen as parents' pride and the products of their hard work. One of the primary goals of marriage in Hindu families is to have children. It is assumed that children will be cared for by their parents as long as is necessary with the understanding that children will take care of parents when they grow old (Seegobin 1999).
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